Public Info

Free Watershed Education Program for Schools, Community Groups

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders encourages teachers in grades k-12 and local community group organizers to register for a free presentation that introduces watershed and environmental concepts in a fun and meaningful way.

The 30-45 minute, interactive program is conducted by a Watershed Ambassador from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and is co-hosted by the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Rahway River Watershed Association.

“Union County is part of a major watershed that ultimately drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and it is our duty as citizens to protect and preserve our water resources,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “The watershed educational program is a great way to ensure that our community is informed about the importance of watersheds and their role in the environmental health of the Earth itself.”

A watershed is a specific land area that drains into a river system or other body of water. Some watersheds are fairly small. Others sprawl out to include rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

A large portion of Union County is located in New Jersey’s Watershed Management Area 7, the Elizabeth and Rahway watersheds. Area 7 also includes parts of Essex and Middlesex counties. It covers the 11-mile Elizabeth River, the 24-mile Rahway River, major tributaries including the East Branch Rahway River, Woodbridge River and Robinson’s Branch tributaries, and major impoundments including the Middlesex Reservoir, Orange Reservoir, Lower and Upper Echo Lakes, and Diamond Mill Pond.

Now in its 18th year, the Watershed Ambassador program sends trained presenters to classrooms and civic groups, to help teachers, students, and community members discover how human behavior can impact the land and water around them.

The free program also offers easy, practical solutions that everyone can implement to reduce pollution and improve water quality, such as eliminating or minimizing the use of pesticides on lawns, picking up pet waste, and not feeding geese.

The Water Ambassador Program is a federally funded position that is administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Program.  There are 20 such positions throughout the state of NJ.

In addition to educational presentations, the program offers stream assessment training for individuals and groups.

To schedule a free presentation or stream assessment training, contact Jennifer Helminski, Watershed Ambassador for Watershed Management Area 7. Her Union County office is located at the County’s Engineering Building in Scotch Plains, and she may be reached at 908-789-3209

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